The truck everyone in the Jeep world is anxiously awaiting to see finally has a hard arrival date.
So said Jeep Brand Head Mike Manley while speaking to reporters Thursday during Fiat Chrysler Automobiles annual ‘What’s New’ event for journalists at its Chelsea, Michigan, Proving Grounds.
Manley also provided an update on the next generation Wrangler during the event, and clarified news about the upcoming Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.
“Anything Jeep does has to have an inherent level of capability that drives some extent both the positioning of the vehicle and the cost of the vehicle,” Manley said regarding the Jeep Truck.
He added that early 2018, and not sooner, is perfect as FCA did not want to rush to market.
“I have no desire today to do a ‘stripped-down’ Jeep pickup,” Manley said.
The announced Jeep Truck release date took many industry analysts by surprise as expectations were the vehicle would come to dealers sometime later in 2018, thus giving the new Wrangler some time to breathe following its release next Spring.
However, Manley indicated a year between release dates is adequate and that everyone at FCA, not just those in the Jeep market, is excited for the truck’s release.
“It’s looking fantastic,” Manley said. “Absolutely fantastic.”
As far as the next-generation Wrangler, Manley said its development is still on track and FCA plans to debut the vehicle January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with sales opening shortly after. This is the same path the Jeep truck is expected to take in early 2018.
All of the plans for retooling of the Toledo, Ohio, Assembly Complex, where the Wrangler is built, are “all but finalized,” Manley said. The location, as FCA indicated earlier this year, will continue to produce the current-generation Wrangler for a short period of time alongside the new Wrangler.
“We’ve made a large number of changes in terms of fuel economy, both enablers in terms of weight, with the aero(dynamics) of Wrangler, because at the end of the day, it needs to be recognized as Wrangler,” Manley said. “With weight and a number of changes that we’ve made, you’re going to see that we’ve really pushed that vehicle forward in terms of fuel economy.”
“To be honest with you, I’m delighted in the way it’s turning out, not just from a styling point of view, but from an overall point of what Wrangler stands for; I’m very pleased.”
Those interested in the upscale Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer SUV, due for a late 2018 release, will see the vehicle as two trim levels – and not two separate vehicles – according to Manley.
“The Wagoneer name represents, historically, the pinnacle of premium for the Jeep world. But in the same way as you may have an Overland and a Summit, you have different trim levels, so you could imagine the use of Wagoneer to denote a really premium vehicle, and Grand Wagoneer takes it to the very next level,” Manley said. “So if you were to use that as your naming strategy, that’s exactly how I would use the trims.”
Jeep sold more than 1.2 million units last year for 22 percent growth globally and 25 percent domestically.
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